Two Kingdoms Smackdown

As promised, it has arrived.  In a two-part essay of gargantuan proportions, “John Calvin and the Two Kingdoms” (Part I and Part II), Peter and Steven have tackled the “Reformed two-kingdoms” partisans to the ground, bundled them into a coffin, and nailed it shut.  Or so it would appear, at any rate.  No doubt there will be plenty of debates yet to come, but this essay marks the most complete refutation to date of the Westminster West thesis that seeks to identify historic Reformed two kingdoms theology with de jure divino Presbyterianism and on this basis calls for an evacuation of Christian claims from the public square and a retreat into the rigidly-policed four walls of the Church.  Although there are certainly points calling for further clarification, and there is something in this mammoth essay that will trample on most everyone’s toes, it ought to provide a touchstone for any future discussions of the historical issues involved.  

Also worth seeing is Davey Henreckson’s round-up of the recent debates at Reforming Virtue, where he poses questions to all of the interlocutors, including, last and least, myself.

Some Tasty Morsels of Blogdom

Is it just me, or has the blogosphere churned out some unusually fine fare over the past week or so?  Well, the narrow corner of it I sample certainly has.  Here’s some highlights you should check out:

Peter Leithart bucks the Moscow trend by offering a qualified endorsement at First Things of the recent growth of evangelical interest in social justice.  In particular, he turns to the Torah to confirm the importance of this concern, but also to critique facile equations of Christian justice with welfare statism.  If we want to care for the poor the way God wants, we should pay careful attention to the view of property and poverty enshrined in these laws, and the way they worked in practice, rather than simply appealing to vague “Jubilee principles.”  Any regular reader of this blog knows that this has been a prominent theme in my own thinking and writing for the past couple years, and that Leithart is my patron saint–so naturally, I was pretty jazzed about this essay.

Stewart Clem at Transpositions offers the finest reflection I have yet encountered on Tree of Life, a film of breathtaking beauty and theological depth which has occupied my thoughts daily since I saw it two weeks ago.  The gist of Clem’s reading–the film is not, in fact, about the dichotomy of nature and grace, as it seems to claim; rather, it teaches us that nature is graced, and it is only our fallen distortions of it that make us unable to recognize it.

Davey Henreckson, after a long period of comparative blogging dormancy, has erupted in the last week with a pair of fine posts on Annabel Brett’s new book Changing States.  The most recent of these, on the relationship of natural virtue and God’s law in early Protestant political theology, is right up my alley, even majoring on that oft-neglected but ever-fascinating Florentine, Peter Martyr Vermigli.

Finally, Jeremy Kidwell, having just migrated to a new blog home,, offers some provocative reflections on Protestantism, vocations, and intentional communities.  This post almost exactly echoed some thoughts that I recently shared with a friend, and that I’ve been continuing to reflect on; I never discussed them with Jeremy, but we did have a meal together that day…must’ve been some mental osmosis going on.